Tackling Extremism, Radicalisation and Militancy in Pakistan
The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus
With global attention focused upon the ongoing conflict in Pakistan, it is timely to consider current strategies of the Pakistan government.
Professor Samina Yasmeen, a Pakistani Muslim with decades of expertise in the field of political science, was well placed to address the subject of her recent talk: Tackling Extremism, Radicalization and Militancy in Pakistan: A Critical Appraisal of Current Strategies, held at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus.
Dr Yasmeen is Director of Centre for Muslim States and Societies (UWA) and lectures in Political Science and International Relations in the School of Social and Cultural Studies (UWA). She is a specialist in political and strategic developments in South Asia (particularly Pakistan), the role of Islam in world politics, and citizenship among immigrant women.
She is also the author of Understanding Muslim Identities: From Perceived Relative Exclusion to Inclusion (2008); co-editor of Islam and the West: Reflections from Australia (2005) and has written numerous articles and given lectures on Islam and Muslims in Australia, developments in Pakistan and transnational Islam.
Professor Yasmeen’s talk was part of The Beyond War series coordinated by law lecturer, Associate Professor, Dr Ben Clarke.
Dr Clarke said that Professor Yasmeen’s talk demystified the phenomena of extremism, radicalization and militancy in Pakistan.
“Samina’s presentation emphasized the following points:
- Extremism, radicalization and militancy in Pakistan is a product of historical events.
- Pakistan was created, upon the Partition of India in 1947, as a ‘land for Muslims.’
- After the 1971 war between ‘Muslim Pakistan’ and ‘Hindu India’ there was a lot of introspection in Pakistan. ‘We make mistakes. We weren’t good Muslims. That is why we lost the war.’ This, together with corruption and vote rigging led to greater emphasis upon Islamic rather than secular identity in Pakistan.
- Pakistan was by now under a military dictatorship that supported the spread of the ideology of jihad.
- When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan became the training ground for jihad and the launching pad for mujahedeen factions that fought the Russians.
- The language of jihad found its way into school books. Pakistan transitioned from a ‘model Asian state’ to one where Pakistani identity meant support for jihad.
- Arab interpretations of what it meant to be a good Muslim filled the void left by the absence of responsible government
- Young generations were raised on Arab notions of ‘authentic Islam’ and jihad. This message was indirectly funded by various of anti-Soviet States (including the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia) that generously supported mujahedeen factions.
- The legacy has been the growth of the Taliban, repression of local communities by the Taliban and the loss of basic rights in areas under Taliban control.
- Two generations of Pakistanis have now been exposed to this ideology (Arab notions of authentic Islam based on violent jihad).
- Radicalisation and militancy in Pakistan is the product of this extreme ideology.
- While there are no simply solutions to this problem, we should not right Pakistan off as a ‘basket case’.
- NGOs need to work in various areas of Pakistan by helping to provide:
- health care,
- broad based education, and
- protection of rights of women and children.”
Professor Yasmeen concluded: “The future of Pakistan will be shaped by international support to help transition Pakistani culture from one where support for Taliban ideology can still be generated, to one where, instead, all of the people of Pakistan prefer fundamental human rights, democracy and civic responsibility.”
Dr Ben Clarke 08 9433 0607
Clarke, Ben, "Tackling Extremism, Radicalisation and Militancy in Pakistan" (2010). Media Release Archive. 85.